Tag: hebrides

Visit the Outer Hebrides (Iain)

 

There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to confess something to his partner. He’ll have struggled with the confession for weeks in advance. He’ll spend ages trying to get the correct phrasing. In the weeks leading up to it he’ll use bribery and flattery to get his partner in the right frame of mind to hear him.

But… eventually… he’ll just have to confess – “I’m going on a biking holiday!”

He’ll then try to explain to his partner how his week long “training” trip to Mallorca or the Canary islands wont be fun. He’ll claim – nobody will be drinking!  He’ll say – we’re not going anywhere near Shagaluf…sorry Magaluf.  He’ll state – it’s all about the hills.

A few years ago, I went on a week long “training” holiday to the famous Lanzarote resort of Club la Santa or as  I prefer to call it, Prison Camp la Santa. The accommodation was so spartan the film 300 was filmed here. (I might have made that last bit up).

The accommodation, at that time, was terrible (and subsequently has been upgraded) The room was tiny with old broken furniture. I had to pay a small fortune for food and drink and there wasn’t much to do once I’d been for a spin on the bike as Santa is miles away from any big town. What made it worse was discovering someone else was staying in a 5* all inclusive hotel near by which was half the price!

This year, instead of an overpriced training camp on a windy, desolate, overbearingly hot island I went to a  windy, desolate, cold island – the Outer Hebrides.

During the week, I was able to bike a different route every day on virtually car free roads.

Tour De Harris – https://www.strava.com/activities/1099040596

One of the greatest cycling routes in the UK. The road hugs the coast around the Isle of harris. On the west side I passed golden sand beaches and amazing views across to small islands. On the east coast I biked through a rocky landscape that wouldn’t be out of place on the moon!

Tour De Point – https://www.strava.com/activities/1102079723

A flat out and back route to a lighthouse. From here you can watch whales pass by. On the way back a small detour will take you to a 15% hill climb! It’s short but hard. I needed a quick rest at the top!

Tour De West Side – https://www.strava.com/activities/1103897867

A great way to see some of the island’s best attractions. The route takes in the ancient stone circles at Callanish as well as visiting the blackhouses, the Broch and some of the best beaches on the west side.

Castle Grounds Mountain Bike trail – https://www.strava.com/activities/1100545590

If you tire of road biking then a recently completed mountain bike trial has been constructed in the Castle Grounds. An area of forestry next to Stornoway.  I hadn’t tried it before and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. There’s no major hills but lots of undulating tracks. It was a great way to pass a few hours.

As well as cycling there’s great places to swim, to run run, and to go on walks.

It’s one of the most beautiful places in the UK and everyone should visit at least once. If your partner asks about the pubs then you can says that the Outer Hebrides has the highest rate of abstinence in the UK! Just don’t mention that the one’s who don’t abstain love to drink…a lot! 🙂

Hebridean Triathalon (Iain)

“Blue-green algae occurs when specific types of photosynthetic bacteria forms blooms”

Blue-green algae can be toxic to animal and humans. Although it’s a misnomer as its not actually an algae. There’s a useful/useless fact you can tell your friends.

The Hebridean triathlon is the first ever triathlon to be held on the Isle Of Lewis. This year’s event was a test event. The organisers had never done a triathlon themselves so credit to them for putting on a successful event.

Nine hardy souls had agreed to test the course. A mixture of individuals and teams.

Swim – 30 min

The day before the event blue-green algae was found in the loch. Luckily a retest of water in the morning showed no sign of it.

The swim was two laps. The water was so full of peat it felt like swimming in a pint of Guinness. I could barely see my hand in front of my face. I forgot to start my GPS watch so I can’t check how accurate my sighting was.

I know I took a detour on the first lap as a canoeist came over and pointed me towards the correct buoy. I was swimming towards the wrong one.

The second lap was fine and I was out of the water in 30 minutes. I could have been quicker if I’d gone in the correct direction but I was happy with the time.

Bike – 1hr 26 min

bike

The bike course was an out and back loop to the Callanish Stones. An ancient stone circle site. There was a strong north westerly wind but it never felt like it was helping on the way out or back.

The route was “lumpy” with one minor 15% climb(!). It was short but I could feel the front of my bike lifting as I tried to go up it.

On the road it was sometimes better to cycle on the pavement. This sounds dodgy but pavements on the island are just an additional bit of concrete next to the road. Some of the pavements have been laid later than the road so they are smoother to ride on.

My time was slow but it never felt like a fast course. I think most people came in slower than they expected.

Run – 57 min

bike

This is the slowest I’ve ever run a 10k! The route was out and back through a local village. It was as “lumpy” as the bike route.

It was strange running along with so few people about. When I finally saw someone in their garden I gave them a big wave. Relief that someone else was out and about.

Thankfully the last 2km are mostly downhill. The first time in the day I felt it was easy.

Overall

Great first race on the island which should go from strength to strength. The course is good, the location is amazing and the food at the end is the best of any race I’ve done.

Just don’t expect a PB 🙂

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